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Monday, September 19, 2011

Greedy!

The accusation that ‘So-and-So is greedy!’ is almost always -- and when the accusation has political ramifications, always -- intended as an attempt to provide moral cover for, and sanctification of, the accuser’s own covetousness. That is, and to use his own terms, the accuser hopes to disguise his own greed as a righteous thing, and indeed as a just thing -- the accuser means "I want what you have", but he phrases it as "It is 'unfair' that you have what you have, but that someone else doesn't".


edit 2011/11/11:
VR, in 'Cafeteria conservatism and the New Testament ': "The treatment of wealth and poverty in the New Testament fail to rule out all conservative positions as unChristian, but some versions of it strike me as unacceptable. For example, the ethics of Ayn Rand and the ethics of Christ simply can't be reconciled. Greed is not good. ..."

How is someone else's alleged greed any of your damned business? [Do you not have enough to concern yourself with in your own shortcomings and sins?]

How does someone else's "greed" -- whether the term is used to refer to real greed, or whether it is used to refer to the false "liberal" redefinition of the term -- harm you or anyone else?

It wasn't "greed" -- it wasn't citizens wanting to keep for their own use as much as possible of the fruit of their own labor -- which rounded up, stole the wealth they had created, and deported to the wilds of "Indian Territory" a significant number of my ancestors; it was government which did that -- it was democracy (and, in fact, it was Democrats!) at the behest of actual greed who did this. [Fourthermore, it was not simple greed which motivated those Democrats all those years ago -- it was not *simply* an unbalanced desire to possess more than they already possessed; no, it was covetous greed which motivated them, for they coveted what others already possessed and desired to take it from them.] Yet, this [covetous] actual greed was itself powerless to harm my family, it required government guns to round them up and steal their farms and homes and wealth.

And, just as Democrats of 170-180 years ago (in the life-time of my great-grandfather) were actually greedy for the wealth of others, and used the force of the US government to dispossess those people, so too, today's Democrats are actually greedy for the wealth of others, and seek constantly to use the force of the US government to dispossess those persons. Those old Democrats used all sorts of false reasons and reasoning to justify their theft; but they were pikers compared to today's Democrats, for today's Democrats seek to turn reality on its head when they declare: "That you keep resisting our efforts to take from you what is your just proves how 'greedy' you are!"

25 comments:

Foxfier said...

Yep.

"You're greedy"=> "I covet what you have."

Nikk Jakson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nikk Jakson said...

Good post! It fits right in (as I suppose it's meant to) with the liar Obama's current "tax the rich" proposals, which of course gets the MSM going with the propaganda machine about those "selfish" rich people who must "pay their fair share".


And it's not just about the "rich". You're "greedy" if you want to keep all that you actually earned, rather than passively consent to the state's theft of your wealth, no matter how much or how little income you make.

Ilíon said...

Sure, I wrote it with the wicked (morally evil) schemes of the "liberals" and their leftist puppet-masters in mind. But, the immediate prompt for it was that I was sick and tired of a specific "liberal" bastard calling me greedy! because I argue against the "liberal"/leftist agenda of demonization of "the rich" as the pretext for confiscatory taxation.

Ilíon said...

Perhaps I ought to update the OP to provide the specific context which lead to me formulating/articulating this principle.

Foxfier said...

I generally just add a link in the comments along the lines of "inspired in part by." It makes a good general point, no need to distract from it.

Gyan said...

Ilion,
What does 'greedy' mean to you?

To me, it means 'wanting more and more and never being content'.

Thus, a billionaire who is still working to get more money is greedy, isn't he?

Now as a unintended side-product of his getting more, he may benefit a lot of people. But *he* is still greedy and his working and getting is not morally good.

What do you think?

Foxfier said...

To me, it means 'wanting more and more and never being content'.

Sounds like the gov't to me.

Thus, a billionaire who is still working to get more money is greedy, isn't he?

If a billionaire is just trying to get more money-- as opposed to other motives-- then he would be. Thing is, "more money" isn't the reason anyone I know who's successful actually works. The most common purpose is generally "make my business what I imagine it could be."

Of course, a lot of folks I know who are "rich" are only rich on paper-- it's kind of like figuring that an egg farmer has a yearly income of X eggs, and then expecting that he'll have that many eggs on hand.

But *he* is still greedy and his working and getting is not morally good.

Deciding that, among many possible motives, someone is motivated by the one that would be sinful is not morally good. Not very good for figuring folks out, either.

The desire for power is much more worrying.

Ilíon said...

"What do you think?"

I think that your thinking has been colonized by leftist shibboleths (as has nearly everyone's).

"What does 'greedy' mean to you?"

'Greed' is an inordinate desire for, or fixation upon acquiring, some Good Thing. But, as soon as we say ‘inordinate’, we have to ask ourselves, “Inordinate with respect to *what*?

The “liberal” answer to the question is (as always), “Inordinate with respect to what *I* think is fitting for you to have and/or desire to have”. To which the proper response is some variation of … well, a certain famous four letter word.


Thus, a billionaire who is still working to get more money is greedy, isn't he?

Whether he is or is not, how is it in any wise your business or my business or the business of Reid, Pelosi and Obama? If you are his pastor or confessor, it may well be; if you are his wife or children, it certainly is; but if you are you or me, it is no business of ours?

Didn’t Someone once famously advise us all to deal with the board in our own eyes before worrying about the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye?

Ilíon said...

"The desire for power is much more worrying."

Indeed.

Bill Gates, with all his wealth, cannot compel me to do anything -- unless, like Warren Buffett, and even moreso George Soros, he greases the right government palms and whispers in the right government ears.

Ilíon said...

Nikk: "And it's not just about the "rich". You're "greedy" if you want to keep all that you actually earned, rather than passively consent to the state's theft of your wealth, no matter how much or how little income you make."

Indeed.

The "liberal" bastard whose accusation was the immediate prompt of the OP knows nothing about me ... except that I oppose altogether the leftist assertion of The State’s ownership of you and me and that rich guy over there. He doesn’t know whether I am rich or poor or somewhere in between. He doesn’t know whether I was “to the manner born” or born in poverty. He doesn’t know whether I ever worked my way out of the poverty into which I was born, or did not.

And, he doesn’t care. All he cares about is that I oppose his statist designs on my life and well-being.

Gyan said...

Ilion,
You haven't provided the 'conservative' answer to
"Inordinate with respect to *what*?

Greed was a major preoccupation of ancient and medieval thinkers. So there must be decent answers to this question.

Gyan said...

"Whether he is or is not, how is it in any wise your business or my business"

If we can't make judgments regarding greed, then equally we can't make judgments regarding lust, promiscuity et al.

Foxfier:

The most common purpose is generally "make my business what I imagine it could be."

I may imagine to own half of USA,am I not greedy?

Foxfier said...

Are you really that incapable of imagining any motive other than "own a lot of stuff"? Or just a troll?

Either way, not worth trying to explain further-- may as well try to explain craftsmanship or pride-of-skill, two related notions.

Ilíon said...

Gyan: "You haven't provided the 'conservative' answer to "Inordinate with respect to *what*?"

You have a point?

Until the silly persons who worry about other persons' alleged greed (which seems to include you), acknowledge the futility of shreiking "Greed!" without some reference-point, why should I?

Now, we all know that shreiking "Greed!" has great rhetorical value, and has for thousands of years, for it plays on the avarice of its listeners. But, once those listeners stop listening to their own greed, and ask themselves, "With respect to *what* is this allegation of 'greed!' being made?", then the accusation is blunted.

Gyan: "Greed was a major preoccupation of ancient and medieval thinkers."

Let's see: the elite social arrangements of the ancient world especially, but also of the medieval world to a lesser extent, were based upon looting one's fellow man. All aristocrats are the grandchildren of murdering thugs -- and they have a vested interest in showing that the *next* group of would-be aristocrats are morally illegitimate.

Gyan: "So there must be decent answers to this question."

Or course there is; and I've already written it in the thread elsewhere which prompted the observation made in this post.

Gyan: "If we can't make judgments regarding greed, then equally we can't make judgments regarding lust, promiscuity et al."

You're not really paying attention, are you? You're not *trying* to consider the question (the truth, in fact) that concerning oneself with someone else's alleged greed is one of the ways that one puts oneself under the control of those who are greedy for power.

Ilíon said...

"Or just a troll?"

There are no trolls at my blog (for I simply delete anything such persons post), and I do not appreciate the insinuation that one of my guests is one.

Gyan is an apparently new idea. That's frustrating from our perspective, yrt understandable from his.

To put it another way, should I start insinuating trollishness to someone who refuses to comprehend that no computer program will ever be a person (because it's logically impossible for one to be)?

Foxfier said...

To put it another way, should I start insinuating trollishness to someone who refuses to comprehend that no computer program will ever be a person (because it's logically impossible for one to be)?

If you're going to insist on misstating an argument from another place, then I really don't care what you call it. As I pointed out on my blog in the relevant argument, impossibility isn't relevant-- it's a matter of proving something in that logic format, and you can't prove a starting premise. Feel free to go back and show the line of reasoning that proves a machine can't be a person, rather than just saying it over and over again. The entire point of the other post is that sort of show-your-work idea play, not announcing what you believe.

Gyan is either having a very hard time realizing there are options besides the one he sees or is attempting to get a response; seeing as several other options were offered and he returned to the original accusation, that points to an attempt to spark a specific response.

Gyan said...

Ilion,
Do you mean that humans are so damaged or deluded or covetous that the imputation of Greed always lacks an objective content? from the smallest child to the greatest philosopher?

Pls understand that I am not American and I do not speak in the context of current American affairs.

MikeT said...

The people who are using this as an "aha! moment" seem to lose sight of the fact that the covetous envy of the one denouncing the greed is not absolved by the greed of his target.

Of course, to a typical liberal that's nonsense since the oppressed are free to break any moral rule to protect themselves and advance their interests.

Ilíon said...

So, your answer is "Yes"?

Ilíon said...

Mike T: "The people who are using this as an "aha! moment" seem to lose sight of the fact that the covetous envy of the one denouncing the greed is not absolved by the greed of his target."

This is all true. But, the deeper truth they are ignoring – and insist upon ignoring even after it is pointed out to them -- is that the alleged greedy person's alleged greed is none of their damned business.

A person’s greed damages her (*) own soul; but unlike envy, greed per se injures no one else, nor seeks to do so. And, it is not even the ‘greed’ per se which injures the greedy woman’s (*) soul, but rather the underlying improper or unbalanced valuing of Good Things in relation to The Good. Cure the greedy woman of her greed for accumulating wealth (**), without resolving her underlying problem of unbalanced priorities, and she’ll simply latch onto something else upon which to focus so that God remains hidden to her sight.


(*) I am, of course, mocking “gender inclusive language”.

(**) Which greed not only harms no one else, but actually materially benefits all other persons.

Ilíon said...

... Most specific sins, by the very nature of sin, actively seek to injure others, especially the innocent. Greed is one of the few sins which not only produces general societal good, but for which the damages the sin per se generates do not rebound upon the innocent.

Ilíon said...

Gyan: "Thus, a billionaire who is still working to get more money is greedy, isn't he?"

Ilíon: "Whether he is or is not [greedy], how is it in any wise your business or my business?"


Gyan: "If we can't make judgments regarding greed, then equally we can't make judgments regarding lust, promiscuity et al."

I doubt I'll cover all the things wrong with Gyan's counter-claim, but, for starters:

1) I didn't say anything about whether it is or is not possible in principle to determine whether someone is 'greedy'? I expect that I did say that in practice it is exceeding difficult to make a valid determination.

1a) Rather, I rhetorically asked how/why/on what ground someone else's alleged 'greed' (in contrast to the sort of covetous envy which opportunistically disguises itself as moral and political opposition to "Greed!") is the business of anyone else individually or corporately. The implied answer to the question is, of course, “It isn’t, and there isn’t”.

2) Making a determination of someone else’s ‘greed’ is almost entirely subjective – it has next to nothing to do with whether he is or is not objectively greedy (and, just what *is* the objective measure, anyway?), but rather, the “measure” is based upon the accuser’s own feelings about the other’s possession of wealth.

3) On the other hand, making a determination that another is promiscuous does have an objective measure against which to make the determination. That most people in present-day society wish to fudge on the measure, so as to escape admitting that they themselves are promiscuous, is a different matter.

Gyan said...

"Which greed not only harms no one else, but actually materially benefits all other persons."

By the Invisible Hand of Adam Smith, I suppose you mean.

There was an example given by a Catholic Misean. He went to buy a used car and chosed a car. The salesman asked him how much do you want to pay for it.

The Catholic Misean replied that I want to pay zero dollars. The salesman was confused or bemused by this reply and so the Catholic Misean enlightened the salesman that a buyer always wants to pay the least while the seller always wants to get the maximum and there is nothing wrong in wanting so.
He imputed the salesman for wanting one trillion dollars for the used car.

I commented that the Catholic Misean attitude was un-Christian (in lacking Charity) and also sub-pagan (in lacking justice).

One simply does not want to pay zero for something if one is not disordered.

Gyan said...

"Greed is one of the few sins which not only produces general societal good, but for which the damages the sin per se generates do not rebound upon the innocent."

Greed is subtle.